Johnson v. Bennett

PETITIONER: Johnson
RESPONDENT: Bennett
LOCATION: Stanley's Home

DOCKET NO.: 32
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

CITATION: 393 US 253 (1968)
ARGUED: Nov 13, 1968 / Nov 14, 1968
DECIDED: Dec 16, 1968

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Johnson v. Bennett

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 14, 1968 in Johnson v. Bennett

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 13, 1968 in Johnson v. Bennett

Earl Warren:

Number 32, Gale H. Johnson, petitioner versus John E. Bennett, warden.

Mr. Carlson, you may proceed with your argument.

Ronald L. Carlson:

Thank you Your Honor.

May it please the Court, I am Ronald Carlson from Iowa City, Iowa.

I'm here today Your Honors representing Gale Johnson who is a prisoner at Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, Iowa.

Mr. Johnson was originally charged in this case with the crime of murder.

The jury, Your Honors, was presented with four alternative verdict forms: murder in the first degree with death penalty, murder in the first degree with life imprisonment, murder in the second degree, or not guilty.

The jury rejected the first two alternatives that is the first-degree murder alternatives and found Mr. Johnson guilty of murder in the second degree.

Byron R. White:

Mr. Carlson?

Ronald L. Carlson:

Yes, Your Honor.

Byron R. White:

This was 35 years ago?

Ronald L. Carlson:

Yes, 34 years ago Your Honor.

Byron R. White:

He got life sentence?

Ronald L. Carlson:

Yes.

Byron R. White:

I gather life sentence like (Inaudible).

Ronald L. Carlson:

Well, --

Byron R. White:

Even the defendant (Inaudible) may advise for 15 years.

Ronald L. Carlson:

Yes.

Now, we have a rule there I believe Your Honor that provides that the life sentence is non-parolable and has to be commutable to a term of years.

So, at the present time I believe he is being considered for parole right now but there's nothing certain about it and I believe he would have to undergo the commutation first.

Byron R. White:

And I gather quite that they'll say in Iowa, life is almost (Inaudible).

Ronald L. Carlson:

Yes, that's right.

Now, he claims certain very distinct errors occurred in his trial Your Honors.

Byron R. White:

(Inaudible)

Ronald L. Carlson:

Sure.

Byron R. White:

Had he raised these questions in other procedures he elevated?

Ronald L. Carlson:

Yes, he has.

He has been denied evidentiary hearings on every occasion, --

Byron R. White:

When did --

Ronald L. Carlson:

-- say the one below.